It’s hard enough coping with the loss of a loved one, but to have dissension among family members over the validity of the will makes matters almost unbearable. If someone with a claim on the deceased’s estate contests the will, you may need to hire your own lawyer to defend your loved one’s original wishes. We explain how a will defense works here.
Presumption of Validity
Unlike the person who is contesting the will, you have the advantage of defending a document that is presumed by the court to be valid. Just because someone isn’t happy with what they were left—or with being left out entirely—doesn’t mean they can legally contest the will. The person contesting the will needs to have legitimate grounds for doing so. Common grounds for will contests include the following:
- Challenging the mental capacity of the deceased at the time he or she made the will.
- Claiming someone exercised undue influence or fraud over the deceased in making the will.
- Showing evidence that the will was improperly executed.
- Presenting a will that is dated more recently than the will being executed.
Regardless of how outrageous you believe the contest is, you may need to present evidence to counter the claim the contester is making. An experienced New York estate litigation attorney can help you gather the evidence you will need to defend your loved one’s will. Evidence may include the following:
- Letters, emails, or text messages from the decedent expressing her intentions regarding specifics of the will.
- Oral testimony by witnesses to whom the decedent made her wishes known.
- Testimony from the decedent’s physician testifying that she was of sound mind at the time she made the will.
- A handwriting expert who can verify that the decedent’s signature on the will was not a forgery.
Depending on the claims the person contesting the will is making, other evidence that supports the validity of the will may be necessary.
Our Estate Litigation Attorneys Can Help You
Even with the presumption of validity on your side, a determined family member with an aggressive attorney can be successful in contesting your loved one’s will. Don’t assume they cannot win simply because you know in your heart that the will is valid. Call our Brooklyn estate planning and litigation firm to discuss the case with an experienced litigator. We can help you honor your loved one’s last wishes.